May 30, 2010

Asilah, Morocco

Food fantasies have subsided for me here. What began as palpable anticipation has faded into a mechanical routine; something required of me but not for the joy of it. It isn’t that I haven’t had any good food, only that the good food I’ve had has been in remote pockets. Random and inconsistent like a shooting star or a baby born with teeth. isolated. (BushDiva: “it has not faded it has been beaten out of me like a civil rights’ protester.)

My return to Marrakech was short. Time enough for a hammam to wash the sahara from my body and to grab food to stave off hunger during the overnight train. I considered more medina food – mass produced for the weary tourist- but was irritated by the constant haranguing as I walked by, the rudeness if I declined to buy whatever was being sold. So I succumbed to BushDiva’s utterly ridiculous suggestion.


She’d already gone over to the dark side – health nut that she is. The anti-everything…anti carbs, anti butter, anti sugar…she had a happy meal our first night in Meknes. In truth, she did look happy. I couldn’t bring myself to do it then despite my persistent disappointment.

Fast-forward past several overpriced under-flavored tangines en route to the desert and I found myself staring up at the bright colorful menu board at the McDonald’s attached conveniently to the train station. I studied the board carefully. If I was gonna do this, it was still going to be a cross cultural moment.

I settled on the Big Tasty, a mechoui burger (roast lamb). It was between that and a burger served on flatbread. With fries and a drink it came to 54MAD (about $6).

In some ways it felt so typically American, but I got over it.

Yesterday found me in Asilah in the north of the country on the Atlantic ocean – just south of Tangiers. The flavor of Spain peppers the architecture, the medina, and the food.  Signs are in Arabic, French, and Spanish. Dishes range from couscous to calamari to paella in equal measure.

I dared not hope again.

Lunch was overpriced mediocre paella. Not bad, just not a spectacle for the tongue. But dinner, dinner provided fodder for hope. At the suggestion of someone I met we ventured to a friendly little place away from the water with reasonable prices. My shrimp tangine was just ok but BushDiva’s calamari and fish were delightful – fresh and crispy.

For lunch we followed the book and another suggestion. A chi chi spot with a view of the indigo waters that was overpriced and under-flavored. We didn’t even wait a few hours; instead we headed back to the previous evening’s spot and ordered a repeat – crispy hot calamari.

It looks like dinner will be a variation on a theme.

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1 Comment on McMoroccan

  1. Teresa says:

    I’m sorry to hear that Morocco hasn’t been the best experience. Confirms my decision to skip it last time I was in the area. Where to next? Will you get to spend a bit of time in Spain? I do hope so because you will get your fill of marvelous things (food included). Don’t forget paella at Ayo’s (on the beach) and the caves all in Nerja if you are able to head west on the coast!
    If I’m in a place long enough, sometimes I end up at McDonald’s just because I’m a bit homesick. We had to go to the one in Krakow since it was in a medieval cellar!

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